photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
employment and income

community activities
culture and customs
justice and crime
social change
social relationships
spiritual beliefs

introducing the area


 quotes about education
 key testimonies featuring education

boy in PeruEducation is one of the areas where there has been considerable change. Most of the older women say they had little opportunity for schooling - poverty ruled it out mostly, plus the widespread view that even if money was available, it wasn't worth educating a girl. Boys were the priority, since they were the future breadwinners and seen as likely to help their parents. One woman in her 40s says her grandmother paid for her to attend a few years of school until her "brother came along and they took me out of school, preferring to pay for my brother as he was the boy. people thought. men ought to study more than the women because they would be the ones who worked and become heads of families and the community." Today, attending school is obligatory and attitudes to educating girls have radically changed, although one woman says that in the rural areas, girls don't always stay the course, especially "when the economy's bad. Some content themselves with learning how to read and write, just the minimum, no more - to add up, to sign their name." More than one narrator confesses with sadness that their children have dropped out because of the expense of keeping them in school.

Generally, though, with farming in decline and local employment opportunities somewhat insecure, most parents lay great emphasis on their children's education, even when they know this will mean temporary or even permanent migration to Lima or other cities. Most say the sacrifice was worth it; others are less sure: "[Children today] don't help and they even forget that they have parents. Maybe it's the education they get. Before parents were stricter and had more authority, now they don't. Children are very selfish and only think about themselves. Education is like that, it makes them more selfish and so they no longer respect their parents. They go away and once in a while they return, that's all" (Peru13). Others warn of the problem of unfulfilled expectations: "The young people go to university with high expectations; they think they're going to become professionals and their parents have high expectations of them too, but in the end they come out and they end up working in whatever they can, despite the fact that they've studied. This is what happens and there's a lot of frustration" (Peru 15). Several stress the need for better higher education facilities in Cerro de Pasco itself, which would keep students there, and encourage job creation locally. The university is seen as out of touch with the people's needs and situation. A couple of people claim the presence of the mining company even dominates aspects of school and university teaching, which often avoid the topic of environmental pollution: ".we don't get any further in having a serious, comprehensive study of the issue which would cover education in the home to ensure the success of the anti-pollution campaigns and prevention. We have to find a way of getting over the overwhelming sense of resignation here. [officials such as] the Education Co-ordinator never do anything. To avoid confrontations with the company they shirk the issue.we should give [our environment] priority and establish the causes, effects and the possible alternatives, the feasible solutions, to bring in students and their parents" (Peru 32).

quotes about education

"When I was 12, a law was passed saying everyone must go to school. The police came and went from house to house looking for people who didn't send their children to school, those who hadn't enrolled that year."
Gregoria, F/44, herder, Peru 6

"The problem is we continue to be a forgotten area. Yes, this area is very much uncared for by the State. For example.the teachers that prepare classes for the children only teach three or four months a year and the rest of the time. they ask for leave. So what happens? Today the campesino sees his children are not being educated as well as they should be, so they feel they're wasting their time. [And if] there's no support for campesinos, the countryside is abandoned. there's no education, there's nothing, so why should the campesinos want their children to carry on in the countryside? They even go with their families to look for new opportunities in the cities."
Juan, M/23, student, Peru 15

".those who want to make themselves better have to leave La Oroya and come to Lima because there are universities here. Any youth who wants to improve himself has to leave by the time he is 16, 17. Since the majority want to go to university, they leave La Oroya, some of them to look for work. You could say that 80% to 85% leave La Oroya."
Wilmer, M/20, student, Peru 17

"They used to say, what's the point in daughters studying when girls weren't going to contribute to the household...when they get married, they'd go on to serve their husband and his family - that's the way it used to be. It was different for the man... besides, women weren't going to contribute [economically].basically, it was machismo . But nowadays sons and daughters reach the same level. I guess there is an influence, very possibly from European culture... or perhaps it's the original culture of the region, very possibly ..."
Juan, M/45, miner/farmer, Peru 1

"The university was a product of the efforts of the mining unions in Cerro de Pasco, particularly the rail-workers union. Unfortunately [that relationship's] dead! Once the university was established it began to separate itself from the trade unions, that's why there's a demand now that our university - we say ours because in reality we all put in effort to bring it to fruition - develops a social perspective. I don't mean them to go out singing and dancing, or lighting fireworks. I mean they have to interpret the needs of the miners, the campesinos and the whole population here. Our university has never organised a debate on the issue of the privatisation of Centromin. That's why we say.they live on a private island, behind a great wall, maybe that's why they can't hear the workers' and the unions' complaints."
Victor, M/42, cultural researcher, Peru 25

".despite the short time I was at the mine... I have caught pneumoconiosis... I have seen a lot of my workmates with severe occupational illnesses and they can't take care of themselves any more, or workmates that have.been handicapped. Before, my family - my father, my grandparents - would say, 'We have to maintain the mining blood in our family.'. I don't think that way. I don't want my children to go to the mines. I would like them to study. In short, let them do what they want to, but I frankly would not like them to go to the mines."
Felix, M/38, unemployed miner, Peru 18

key testimonies featuring education

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Juan   male/45   miner/farmer   Rancas  
Summary Transcript   11   Dominica   female/70   campesina   Quiulacocha  
Summary Transcript   12   Victor   male/old   retired miner   Huaracayo, Yauli region  
Summary Transcript   13   Adela   female/59   campesina   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   14   Hilario   male/65   retired miner   Quiulacocha  
Summary Transcript   15   Juan   male/23   student   Tinyahuarco, Near Cerro de Pasco  
Summary Transcript   17   Wilmer   male/20   student   Lima  
Summary Transcript   18   Felix   male/38   unemployed miner   Cerro de Pasco  
Summary Transcript   19   Florentino   male/35   Agrarian League leader   Paccha  
Summary Transcript   2   Luzmila   female/38   municipal worker   Quiulacocha  
Summary Transcript   21   Eliseo and Isabel   male/female/40s   ex-union activists   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   25   Victor   male/42   cultural researcher   Cerro de Pasco  
Summary Transcript   32   Alejandro   male/40s   teacher   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   5   Delma   female/54   leader of welfare org.   Quiulacocha  
Summary Transcript   6   Gregoria   female/44   herder   San Antonio/Yauli